Hudson Valley Parent

HVP August 2015

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26 Hudson Valley Parent n August 2015 jelly on whole grain bread. I would bring black beans to Girl Scout campfires and everyone would say, 'what's that?' I felt alone and different. But I was different in so many ways anyway." When Batycki entered college, she did her own research into the food industry and became vegan. "To me it was the only ethical way to eat," she say. "When my son was younger I worked really hard to provide him with a vegan option equivalent to anything that might be served at a party so he wouldn't feel left out." Shapiro says she often advises her customers to find or make foods with meat and dairy equivalents. "At Healthy Gourmet To Go, our untuna salad, unchicken salad, mac n' cheese and quesadillas are some of our best sellers, especially in house- holds with kids." Vegan-friendly Hudson Valley "Children who are continually ed- ucated about animal factory farming, health implications for people and environmental implications for the planet often develop their own belief system about veganism," says Shap- iro. "Some end up encouraging their friends to do the same." It's also important to feel part of a larger community, a need often met by joining organizations and meetup groups. There are 269 members of the Hudson Valley Vegans meetup, 149 in the Attack of the Non-killer Vegans meetup, and 324 in the Hud- son Valley Compassion meetup group. There are also events put on by the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. "Every year the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society and Hudson Valley Vegans offer a Thanksgiving dinner," Batycki says. "There are so many products and options, even in mainstream gro- cery stores now. And so many great restaurants in the Hudson Valley that offer vegan options. Things have changed a lot since the days I had to bring a can of beans to Girl Scout camp in order to have something to eat. When we travel we have to plan ahead, but so does anyone with dietary restrictions." 'Our friends understand' Twelve-year-old Brooklyn and 10-year-old Jaiden Meyle of Kingston were raised to make healthy eating choices. A few years ago they decided on their own to become vegetarians. "We didn't like the idea of eating animals anymore," explains Jaiden, who followed in her older sister's footsteps. "When we go to our friends' houses or parties, we don't make a big announcement that we don't eat meat. At parties there are usually several dishes to choose from, and we just try to make healthy choices that don't contain meat," says Brooklyn. "Close friends know we are vegetar- ian, so often they have something to offer us without meat. When we are invited to someone's house, some- times Mom prepares coconut vanilla protein balls or peanut butter protein squares to take along so we can share with everyone." "Our friends don't make fun of us," adds Jaiden. "They understand it's our decision. We love animals and they understand that we don't feel good about eating them. Some of our friends have food allergies, so they understand what it's like to have dietary restrictions." "We don't go to fast food restau- rants," Brooklyn says. "They don't have healthy choices really. Often we go out for Japanese or Thai food. We love Soba noodles, Miso soup and rice balls with seaweed. We went to a few Japanese cooking classes and learned how to make these things at home. It's a lot of fun!" "It's not hard being vegetarian because there's a big variety of good healthy food that we love," concludes Jaiden. "We don't miss eating meat at all." Linda Freeman is a freelance writer, yoga and swing dance instructor living in Marlboro. RAISING VEGANS (Continued from Page 24) Roni Shapiro, owner of Healthy Gourmet to Go, an organic, vegan, gluten-free meal home delivery service based in Saugerties. Shapiro hopes to change the world "one meal at a time."

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